Entitled ‘Fundamental(ism)s’ in an allusion to the general theme proposed by Rem Koolhaas, the Pavilion of Morocco explores the radical and experimental approaches inspired by the region. Present for the first time at the International Architecture Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia, Morocco develops a pavilion revolving around its unique contribution to the XXth century architectural adventure. In addition
to having welcomed the work of international architects, Morocco has above all been a land of exploration, a real laboratory for the Modern Project.
Morocco encouraged unique architectural experiments – constructive and material, formal and architectonic, but also domestic and social – that tangibly contributed to the history of architecture. While the country’s very specific historical conditions fostered this development, the Moroccan genius has also consisted in the ability to absorb, digest, and ultimately metabolize the modern project.
Perhaps this, too, is part of the Moroccan tradition – a tradition of modernity and radicality, and also of appropriation and integration.
To narrate this journey, the Pavilion of Morocco juxtaposes a historical trajectory with a snapshot of the contemporary scene. The tension between the greater history of Morocco’s architecture and its contemporary output highlights a form of fluidity and continuity that is unique and specific to Morocco.
The acclimation of architecture and of the modern project occurred very early on. Quite quickly (beginning in the 1910s), the architectural scene abandoned attempts to adapt the architectural and urban models of the metropolis in favor of inventing new urban and architectural typologies. This desire for integration was born of a fascination for the existing architectural and urban tradition as well as a powerful and collective sense of taking part in a great adventure. The exhibition focuses mainly on the question of the habitat and its transformation. To illustrate this unique process of metabolizing
and hacking, the Pavilion of Morocco questions the way in which inhabitable urban structures transformed, and proposes afterwards a research on the inhabitability of the desert.
When Rem Koolhaas, through the intermediary of Tarik Oualalou, invited the Kingdom of Morocco to participate in the Biennale di Venezia, two questions immediately sprang to mind: why Morocco and why now?
After consulting with various experts, authorities, the Biennale, and especially its president Paolo Baratta, and following numerous meetings with Tarik Oualalou, the president of FADA’, the philistine in architectural history that I am may now—with the requisite humility— attempt to answer these questions.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Morocco is located at the crossroads of Africa and Europe, strategically sited on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This unique geography, whose effects are combined with an exceptionally rich and deep history, has generated a plural identity. Over the course of millennia, this identity has been nurtured by multiple civilizations promoting a harmonious sedimentation, though not one without mutations and ruptures. This unique mix would not have been possible without the dynastic governments that gave rhythm to Morocco’s history, allowed the country to
accumulate its heritage, and preserved the melting pot in which multiple identities could flourish. These aspects of its geography and history make this plural Morocco open to the Other, and the country expresses itself both through its native creativity and its acquisitions from elsewhere. It is not surprising that Morocco has preserved many of its historic urban fabrics, and that UNESCO has included
a significant number of them on its World Heritage List. Morocco’s presence at the Biennale di Venezia is thus not unwarranted.
In standing alongside the great nations that influence global architectural creativity, Morocco evinces its capacity to combine the universal with the authentic, its propensity to maintain its own vision and serenely display its ambitions. The globalization of trade, notably of cultural products, and the convergence of consumption patterns have in no way curbed its ambition to successfully combine innovation and tradition. This mission is the determination of a nation united around its Sovereign to embrace its collective memory and to implement the political, economic, and cultural reforms demanded by the global
challenges confronting humanity today.
The Pavilion of Morocco at the Biennale reflects all of these considerations. It has been designed, under the Royal Patronage, as a space that invites dialogue and meditation. It consciously invites recognized talents from our cultural neighbors so that, together, we might reflect on the provocative yet fruitful theme of ‘inhabiting the desert.’ Beyond the metaphor, the aim is to reflect upon a social
vision for the future and possible post-crisis scenarios. The Morocco that presents itself in Venice is one of being and not of seeming. It is a Morocco that breaks with the clichés and folkloric stereotypes in order to present, with pride, its plural heritage and the nascency of a genuine renaissance. From the so-called ‘musique de boulevard’ (“boulevard music”), to the costumes, artisanal creativity, literature, and, of course, architecture: this is the ‘Moroccan Movida.’ This is the Morocco of Mohammed VI.
H.E. Hassan Abouyoub
His Majesty Mohammed VI’s Ambassador
to Italy in Rome / Commissioner of the
Pavilion of Morocco.
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